The Chicago Bears are in need of wide receiver help. While they’ll likely pick up receivers in the draft, they’ll also need veteran help. Here are three they could target.
This has been said ad nauseam — the Chicago Bears face one of the most impactful offseasons in franchise history. They have about $100 million and counting in salary cap space. Additionally, they have eight draft picks, including the number one overall pick.
After finding themselves irrelevant over the past few decades, the Bears are ready to become real contenders again. General manager Ryan Poles wants to build a team that will be successful for a number of years, not just one-hit wonders.
Of course, after a 3-14 season, the Bears have many holes to fix. Changes needed to be made on offense, defense, and special teams. Poles has the tools to make those changes.
One of the most important items to take care of is helping quarterback Justin Fields. They feel they have the franchise quarterbacks they spent their entire time in the NFL looking for.
Fields showed that he could be an electric player. He fell 64 yards short of breaking the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Quarterbacks get paid big bucks to throw the ball, however. While the rushing yards were all well and good, the Chicago Bears ranked last in both passing attempts and passing yards.
Part of the reason for that was due to not having the proper targets to throw to. The Bears receivers did not do a good job of getting open or making catches when they were targeted in big situations. There were times that Fields hesitated to throw the ball because of his lack of faith in the receivers. They need to change this moving forward.
Poles needs to go after veteran receiver help
Many people expect Poles to go after receivers in the draft. He said on a number of occasions that he wants to build the team mainly through the draft. However, having some veteran help is valuable as well.
You would think that the team has enough veteran help for whichever young prospects the Bears pick up. That isn’t the case, though. This team was void of talent. The only players we know will return are Darnell Mooney (the top receiver on the roster), Velus Jones Jr (2022 third-round pick), and Equanimeous St. Brown (recently signed a one-year extension). Everyone else is available to leave.
Some say that the wide receivers market is not very deep. We won’t really know how deep it is until March 7th, when franchise tags have to be submitted. There will also be some late cuts before the league year begins on March 15th as teams cut salaries.
With the money available to Poles this offseason he could be in on any player he wants. While he wants to spend wisely if there is a player he really wants he has the ability to go after him.
Here are three possible wide receivers the Chicago Bears could target.
Juju Smith-Schuster bet on himself when he signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022. He only played five games in 2021 while dealing with a shoulder injury and turmoil on the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
Ep 114: Aaron Rodgers, OBJ, and The New York Jets
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His bet paid off when he had a bounce-back season. He had 78 catches for 933 yards and 3 touchdowns. He averaged 12 yards per catch. He also became a central figure in the Chiefs playing in the Super Bowl this week.
Smith-Schuster showed that he is still a reliable target. He could come in and be the WR1 on the team. Additionally, if Chase Claypool shows that he understands the offensive system, the Bears could have a devastating trio in Mooney, Smith-Schuster, and Claypool.
As I mentioned earlier, the Chicago Bears need dependable receivers. That was the main reason why he, in some people’s estimation, held onto the ball too long.
Demarcus Robinson might not be a WR1 but he could be one of the most dependable receivers on the roster. He had a solid, not elite, 2022 with 48 catches for 458 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, he had three different quarterbacks throwing due to injuries.
Robinson has the ability to make catches to keep the chains moving. This is something the Bears lacked in 2022. How many times did we see Dante Pettis drop key third-down passes? How many other receivers dropped passes in the end zone?
Robinson might not be the top dog in the wide receivers room but on the field he is the glue that can make the unit become a big asset for the offense.
After signing St. Brown away from the Green Bay Packers the Chicago Bears could do it again with Allen Lazard.
With the Packers losing a few receivers there were some new faces. As a result, Lazard was one of Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite targets in big situations. He finished the season with 60 catches for 788 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Lazard is another dependable receiver. Of his 60 catches, 45 of them resulted in first downs. Add in the six touchdowns and he had 51 high-impact catches.
There is once again a mystery as to whether Rodgers returns to Green Bay in 2023. Even if he does come back, though, Christian Kirk had a big rookie campaign and could see a lot more targets go his way.
Lazard could decide to come to Chicago and step right in. He already understands offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system since they were both in Green Bay. We saw with Claypool that there is a bit of a learning curve before one can master the offense. Lazard already knows the system so he won’t have that learning curve.
As we see, Poles doesn’t have to go after the top names in the wide receiver market. He could, as long as there isn’t a bidding war, however. He could just decide to sign second-tier dependable receivers who fit in well and could help the younger receivers they’ll see after the draft. Those dependable receivers could become unsung heroes in this offense and help turn the Chicago Bears’ offensive fortunes.
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